John F. Kennedy asked of his fellow Americans in his inaugural speech: Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. This is perhaps more appropriate now then it was when he said it almost 50 years ago.
Currently this country is in a sad state of affairs. Housing prices have tanked and 25% of those holding mortgages have zero equity. The stock market has declined substantially and many people have seen their investments go down 20, 30, 40 even 50% in value. Unemployment is higher than it has been in decades further amplifying housing foreclosure issues. The federal deficit is out of control and both the Congress and the president cannot seem to understand the magnitude of the problem.
Now more than ever, we as Americans, have to assume responsibility for ourselves, our families, and our communities because our government cannot afford to provide for everyone in every way.
Personal responsibility. Do what it takes to get healthy and maintain your health. Increase the amount of exercise. Losing weight could allow you to decrease or eliminate some medications as well as making you feel better and more energetic. Don’t place value on what you own, rather on whom and what you can love. Time is all we really have, use it wisely and do not waste it.
Fiscal responsibility. Live within your means. Understand the difference between needs and wants. Borrow only for essential items and make sure you can repay that debt without impacting the quality of your life. Take care of what you already own. Realize the current system of entitlements is unsustainable so do not be over reliant on them.
Volunteer. Find something that inspires your passion. Non-profits are overwhelmed by those in need and not only lack money but volunteers. Even a few hours a month is appreciated. With the school funding cuts, volunteer at your local school to help our young people.
Donate. Are there clothes hanging in a closet you don’t wear that others could? Donate food to a local food bank. Money is always welcomed by charities.
Participate at a local school. An educated workforce is the core of economic growth and stability. Start by working with your own children or grandchildren, helping them with homework and instilling excitement about learning.
Go green. Reduce your consumption, reuse what you can, and recycle as much as you can. Practice conservation in your home and at work. Ask others to support going green. It is the right thing to do and saves money.
Take part in local government. Be aware and active. Contribute constructively and do not just gripe. Citizenship requires participation.
Teach. Help others to expand their ability to earn a living or improve life skills. Teach at a church, library or adult education program. Share what you know so others can grow.
Buy Local. When you can, support your local merchant, farmer or small company rather than the corporate giants. Keep the dollars circulating in our local area rather than some other State or Country.
Michael Chamberlain CFP®
CA Registered Investment Advisor
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This article is for informational purposes and should not be taken as legal, tax or investment advice.